John Giles 'would have worked on panel for free'
Soccer pundit John Giles would have worked at Ireland's crunch game with Scotland for free this weekend because he feels so passionately about it.
RTÉ was met with a backlash yesterday, after it emerged the match day stalwart had been dropped from the European qualifier at the Aviva Stadium.
Sources told the Irish Independent that Giles (inset right) was surprised to be replaced by former Millwall and Ireland player Richard Sadlier.
His co-panellists, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady, are said to be very disappointed with RTÉ's approach.
The broadcaster has defended the move, citing "scheduling" issues.
It is understood that Giles, who lives in Birmingham, is contracted to cover a certain number of games each year. "RTÉ keep a close eye on his quota which is what has happened here," said a source.
However, Giles still wants to be in studio for the match which could decide whether Ireland have any chance of qualifying for Euro 2016.
"In fact, he is so passionate about it that he would have done it for free because he thinks it is one of the most important games we will ever play," said a source. An RTÉ spokesperson said the panel was interchangeable, with a decision made on a "case-by-case" basis.
"John Giles has not been dropped from the RTÉ panel," a spokesperson for the national broadcaster insisted.
"It's quite normal that the composition of the panel changes for scheduling and availability reasons."
With Ireland's next game three months away, the broadcaster says a decision on the composition of the next panel won't be made until two weeks before the qualifier against Gibraltar on September 4.
Meanwhile, Ireland boss Martin O'Neill was back on the training ground yesterday just hours after being involved in a crash on the M50.
The 63-year-old, assistant Roy Keane and coaches Steve Walford, Steve Guppy and Seamus McDonagh were travelling in the same car on the motorway when they were hit from behind by someone in a Ford Fiesta.
O'Neill said: "We're fine, we're fine, I'll survive anyway. We just got shunted from the back. I speak for myself, but I'm feeling not too bad."
Asked if the incident had been scary, O'Neill added after a pause: "Yeah, but listen, we're fine."